Naisṭhika-brahmacārin

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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Naisthika-brahmacarin, NaisThika-brahmacArin, Naisthika-brahmacaarin


Naisṭhika-brahmacārin literally means ‘the brahmacārin Vedic student who remains steadfast to his guru throughout his life’.

Students residing in the house of the guru or gurukula for pursuing Vedic studies, were of two types:

  1. The upakurvāṇa - They stayed for a limited period like twelve years or even less and would offer gurudakṣiṇā[1] before leaving.
  2. The naiṣṭhika - The latter stayed on till their death. They were to remain celibate, serve their guru and also pursue their Vedic studies. If the teacher died, they were to serve the teacher’s son or the wife. They were the perpetual students.

Keeping the Vedic fire of the guru burning without being put out was one of their sacred duties, apart from Vedic studies and begging for food. They had to abjure all the luxuries that violate their vows. Some dharmaśāstra writers opine that physically handicapped persons like the blind, the crippled were to remain as naiṣṭhika brahmacārins[2] though the able bodied persons too could opt for this life.


References

  1. Gurudakṣiṇā means fee or presents.
  2. Naiṣṭhika brahmacārins means the perpetual students.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore